By Sharon Mager
John Ambra, director of development for GuideStone Financial Resource’s Mission:Dignity presented a plaque to Leonardtown Baptist Church, thanking them for their support of retired pastors and their widows. The church received the “Harold and Judy Vick Mission:Dignity Church Award” award; named for longtime GuideStone trustee Harold Vick and his wife Judy. GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins recognized Leonardtown Baptist Church for their contribution at the annual Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in Baltimore in June.
Mission:Dignity is a ministry to retired pastors, workers and their spouses. Many served small or rural churches that paid modest salaries and could not contribute to their pastors’ retirement.
Leonardtown Baptist Church has contributed over $138,000 over the last 25 years.”Pastor Mark Dooley said the church prioritizes giving to Mission:Dignity by including it annually in the church’s budget and reporting on it at each quarterly business meeting.”
“It is a worthwhile ministry,” Dooley said. “We are blessed to be a part of the group of churches that contribute to the retirement of these ministers and their spouses.”
Mission:Dignity assists over 1800 individuals or couples nationwide. About 60% are widows. One in four is a pastor’s widow age 85 or above. Most served small or rural churches with limited or few benefits.
Gilda Evans is one of the four recipients in Maryland. Evans’ husband died in 2004. He pastored several churches in Pennsylvania and Maryland.
Evans’ son, Jon, said his father became a Southern Baptist minister in 1960. Though the church he served invested in GuideStone, they chose the lowest level of support. Mission:Dignity has come alongside and supplied almost as much as GuideStone.”That has been an incredible blessing for her,” Jon said.
John Ambra said Gilda approached the booth at the annual meeting and was overwhelmingly appreciative of Mission:Dignity’s support. Ambra said Gilda is a spirit-filled woman who he thought could preach a sermon right there on the spot.
Jon Evans laughed and said his mom had just turned 90 before the SBC annual meeting. “She couldn’t wait to be there,” he said.
Mission:Dignity recipient Miriam Lauterbach’s husband, Maynard, died 15 years ago. He served Gunpowder and Catonsville Baptist Churches and was a commissioned SBC chaplain for the Baltimore County police and fire department. Lauterbach’s nephew Grant Lauterbach is an associate pastor at Northwest Baptist Church.
“I have been blessed so much through the ministry. I don’t know how I would make it without the support,” Miriam said.
She will be 90-years old in January. She attends Northwest Baptist Church faithfully and even drives an 89-year-old friend.